DEH boss says dump should last until WTE finished

| 19/01/2024 | 37 Comments
Current state of the George Town dump

(CNS): Based on the current rate of garbage being added to the George Town dump, the Department of Environmental Health is estimating that there should be another four to five years of landfilling space left, hopefully enough time for the completion of the planned, but not yet started, waste-to-energy facility. DEH Director Richard Simms told CNS this week that the department should be able to continue using the landfill at the current site until the ReGen project is up and running.

But if, “for some unfortunate reason”, the dump runs out of space before the WTE is finished, the DEH will have to consider landfilling elsewhere, though Simms confirmed that at this stage, no other site had been identified.

Talks between the Cayman Islands Government and Dart are continuing, but there is no start date in sight for the project, which is expected to take around three years to complete the facility and begin burning rubbish. This, coupled with the growing population, means there is a real risk of the department running out of space to put Grand Cayman’s rubbish.

The government awarded the contract to create a national waste management system that included a waste-to-energy facility at the George Town location to a consortium led by Dart in October 2017, more than six years ago. But talks between the PPM-led government and the island’s biggest landowner dragged on and on. When 2020 drew to a close, there was still no agreement.

However, just weeks before the 2021 general elections, the government went ahead and signed a partially completed deal that paved the way for Dart to begin covering a major part of the existing landfill. This significantly reduced the area for the DEH to put the daily garbage collection and fulfilled one of the developer’s main goals for bidding on the project in the first place, thereby removing a major negotiating tool.

The Progressives were unable to form a government in the wake of the 2021 elections, and the independents formed the ill-fated PACT administration. The new premier, Wayne Panton, who took over the project as part of the new Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency, raised significant concerns about the pre-deal agreement that had been signed and entered into further negotiations, which are still going on, as target date after target date comes and goes.

Compounding the problem, the population has soared since the partial remediation work began, and with the return to near pre-pandemic record-breaking tourism numbers, the remaining dump may not have enough space to accommodate the increasing tonnage of trash going to the landfill every day.

In addition, glass recycling stopped after Dart opted not to buy a new crusher to reuse glass in construction, and the remaining recycling is limited to aluminium, dry paper, cardboard, and type 1 and 2 plastics. While the DEH has begun a wheelie-bin kerbside recycling pick-up in Prospect with a view to extending the programme, it still accounts for less than 5% of the daily garbage generated across Grand Cayman.

A long-awaited single-use plastic ban, which would have seen some bags, small water bottles, food containers, straws and other heavily used plastic items banned by 2020, easing the pressure on the landfills, has also failed to materialise.

Simms told CNS that the proposed composting programmes and campaigns to reduce and reuse, which were meant to be part of the integrated project, will not start until the deal with Dart for the entire project is signed. This means that mountains of green waste are still going to the dump, and there is no provision for a reuse exchange centre or any campaigns to get the community to reduce the amount of waste they generate.

Meanwhile, officials have said, yet again, that the negotiations for the ReGen project between the Cayman Islands Government and the Dart Consortium are continuing. “The Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency is working towards sharing more details on updated timelines for the project negotiations in the coming weeks,” a ministry spokesperson told CNS Thursday.

However, the issue has been complicated by the removal of Jennifer Ahearn as chief officer of that ministry. CNS understands that this was due to political pressure put on the Office of the Deputy Governor since the Cabinet reshuffle and formation of the UPM because of a perceived conflict of interest with her husband’s law firm and CUC, which will be using the energy generated by the WTE facility.

As a result, it appears that the negotiations are now being led by Acting Chief Officer Neyka Webster, who joined the ministry just a few months ago.

CNS has asked questions about the reasons for Ahearn’s removal and where she is now. While our questions have been acknowledged, we are still awaiting a response.


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Comments (37)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Can the DEH boss kindly explain when a WTE facility plan was published, let alone approved? There still seems to be a wide gap between the theoretical and reality, with lots of other missing steps and checkpoints in between.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    None of the original CIG/consultant team members are still on this project. The ReGen project negotiations have dragged on for too long.

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    • Anonymous says:

      In order to negotiate, there needs to be a baseline proposal – awarding a contract without a proposal was so overtly crooked. It’s staggering that there hasn’t been a police investigation.

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  3. Praying for them to says:

    Fix the damn dump.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There is no tabled plan to remediate GT Landfill. It is going to stay put as a leaching eyesore. You can see that DART have capped with sand and intend to entomb all of these problems for some other time.

      They have long-aspired to construct a different type of facility in Bodden Town. It requires an East-West Aterial Road. If they get their way, cruise shippers, mariners, and narco transhipers may one day be guided by the former capital’s WTE smoke stack as navigational beacon. It’ll have to be pretty tall (at least 20 stories) to clear cooling smoke over the revitalised GT inhabitants. It’ll have lights on it to prevent air traffic hitting it. The soot and super-heated particulate air will also change rainfall patterns for SW Grand Cayman.

      When you push to “fix the damn dump”, that’s what you get. It also doesn’t do anything about the waste treatment plant on the eastern side of the dump – source of the stink.

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  4. ### says:

    Bring back Assistant Director Mark Rowlands and ask him what he thinks about waste to energy in the Cayman Islands.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    another mortgage on the poor! hail to cesars taxes…lol….or should i say romans…

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  6. Anonymous says:

    This was always the plan with Dart. Check mate!!! No where else for the dump to go….hello, guess who conveniently owns land in Bodden Town? We are getting the dump in Bodden Town, no ifs or buts. Then we the people will have to lease the land from him. The east west extension is probably to facilitate this project again at the expense of the people.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Just ship it off island. We too small for this. Pay someone else to process it.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    How is there still no single use plastic ban after ALL this time? Who is preventing this? It seems like a no brainer for our little island.
    MAKE IT MAKE SENSE!

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the real question should be “Was the selection of the Dart consortium to build/manage/maintain this facility the correct one?”
    This lack of a final decision over 4 governments is very poor. Meanwhile the pile expands. If space runs out before the facility is completed then maybe, just maybe, the consortium has achieved the undisclosed goal – dump relocation.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Lol dart can build a new high rise for offices in a year.
    Owns most of the liquor stores but can’t buy a crusher for the glass.

    Did we all forget that he made billions in Styrofoam products, and he suppose to be our savior for the land fill.

    Lol the irony is astounding.

    He’s only going to do the landfill if it can get half of the space to put up more condos next to it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s now Darts responsibility to buy a glass crusher? Not the government’s, who charge tax on every imported bottle? So I guess it’s Fosters , Kirk’s and Hurleys responsibility to deal with the solid waste as well?

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      • Anonymous says:

        It is their responsibility as appointed agents and winning bidder of their absent plan. They acquired that responsibility by choice.

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      • Anonymous says:

        GIG has known about glass recycling for years and Guernsey has been doing on an island wide scale for over 14 years, with a system that is an appropriate fit for Cayman’s current and near future waste glass generation.
        Why CIG has never realised the benefits of this is totally beyond me and many others who have the figures to prove its many economic and environmental benefits to these islands. CIG needs to take responsibility and pick up the process where Dart left off, but better.
        Use it in its own projects; beach replenishment, road topping, and trench backfilling, the list is voluminous. Sell it for a nominal fee to private companies who need to be mandated by legislation to utilise this valuable inert waste stream in their projects.
        Our DoEH is and has been derelict and delinquent on this issue for decades. Cayman needs to own this problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is it that your waste bottles are Darts problem? Are there any other private citizens you want to be responsible for the nations waste? Let’s start with you and me. How’s about we share the cost of a new glass crusher. No? Didn’t think so.

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      • Anonymous says:

        A municipal glass crusher with conveyer, costs about USD$250k. About the same as a single garbage bulldozer. These things aren’t complicated or expensive, except in Cayman.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    These guys are really winging it on this one, huh….

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Give CIG’s history on large infrastructure projects they should identify an alternate landfill site and begin the process to make it a fully engineered site that will properly contain runoff and capture methane.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Bodden Town it is then.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    3rd world….

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  15. Anonymous says:

    mount thrashmore…the perfect monument to the failures and incompetence of caymanian mla’s over the last 30 years

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  16. Corruption is endemic says:

    Rubbish as usual…

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  17. Anonymous says:

    I’ll crack the jokes!

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